The (A)DAR – Robert Johnson, King of the Delta Blues Singers

Man, where do the days go, anyway?

KotDBS1I haven’t listened to this album in years, and I’d forgotten how much I love it. I am constantly amazed at how well the work of this one guy recording on what’s now considered primitive equipment decades before anyone reading this was born holds up.

One of the earliest documented members of The 27 Club, Johnson spent his life unknown, and as a myth whispered by record collectors for many years after his death. It wasn’t until the early 1960s, with the rediscovery and re-release of his 1930s recordings as King of the Delta Blues Singers that Johnson became a cornerstone of modern music.

I don’t even know where to begin with this album. There likely isn’t a guitar man alive who doesn’t owe something to Robert Johnson. The riffs and chord progressions in King of the Delta Blues Singers permeate modern blues, rock, jazz, folk, country, and I don’t know what else. Johnson ain’t the first guy to sing the Delta blues, but this record is what brought America’s (arguably) first indigenous style of music into the public consciousness of several generations.

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The (A)DAR – Night Train, The Oscar Peterson Trio

It’220px-Oscarnighttrains been a long day, and right now I just want to listen to some music I can relax and chill out to. The Oscar Peterson Trio’s Night Train fits that bill nicely, thank you very much.

Frankly, I know squat about jazz. To me, there are only two kinds: the stuff I like, and the stuff that makes absolutely no sense. And everything I know about Oscar Peterson can be summed up in two words: “Canadian” and “piano.”

That being said, even a neophyte like me can appreciate Peterson’s talent for the piano. I don’t know where 1973 fits into the scope of the man’s career, but the man makes it sound easy. And Ray Brown on bass and Ed Thigpen on drums have no trouble following Peterson wherever his fingers and the keys may take him.

There are two songs on Night Train that I’m familiar with. The title track is most memorable to me as performed by Marvin Berry and the Starlighters at George McFly’s prom. Peterson’s trio take “Night Train” on a different track, to butcher a metaphor.

Their spare, soft version of “Georgia on my Mind,” a song almost synonymous with Ray Charles, was already a hit by the time Night Train was recorded, and the trio pays it due respect while infusing it with their unique style.

And that’s enough of this for tonight. Now it’s time for a little jazz, a glass of wine, and some time away from computer screens. Good night, everyone.


An Emotional Phish

Well, I’m an idiot.

Yesterday, I got an email in my inbox from Skype saying that my password had been changed. I hadn’t changed my password.

Yeah, I know. These emails come in all the time, and the best thing to do is ignore them. That’s my usual MO with these things. Since last year, though, I’ve had some internet asshat emailing me threats, telling me I “stole” the email account I’ve been using for almost a decade from him, and saying he’ll “take me down.”

It was that fear – the thing phishing emails play on – that drove me to click the “reset your password” link in the message. Maybe Asshat did manage to get into one of my accounts. Skype is, after all, about the only service I use that doesn’t have two-factor identification installed.

Derp.

I did hover over the link before clicking on it, and it looked legit. So did the other links on the message. It wasn’t until after I filled out the password reset form that I had landed on that it occurred to me I should have at least tried logging into my Skype account to see if anything was amiss.

Logged in fine. No problems here. Everything is as I left it.

Like I said… idiot.

Luckily, in the “payment method” field of the counterfeit form, I clicked the “PayPal” option and did not give any credit card information. I’m pretty sure that if I did, I’d be several thousand dollars in debt to some Russian casino or something by now. I changed the passwords on both my Skype and Microsoft accounts just to be safe, printed out some new account recovery codes… basically did everything I could do to protect myself from my own blunder.

Sure enough, this morning I got the “we need more information in order to release your account” email from an address that looks somewhat less legit than the original one. Fool me twice, right? To be certain, I logged into my Skype account again and found everything as it should be.

So remember everyone, if an email concerns you that one of your online accounts might have been hacked, check the account first, don’t click any of the links in the email, and only use customer service forms you access securely through the company’s site itself.

If you do manage to pull a bonehead move like I did, change your passwords to your accounts, including any linked accounts. Also be sure you’re not using the same password for your email address that you use for your bank or Facebook or anything else.

And if, like me, you’re still concerned that someone is trying to mess with your digital life, identity theft insurance is cheap and widely available. You may even be able to get it as an add-on to your homeowner’s policy.

That’s my public service announcement for the day. Have fun, Netizens, and be careful out there.


The (A)DAR – Leave No Bridge Unburned by Whitehorse

coverAnother piece of vinyl, this one from one of my favourite Canadian bands right now.

Whitehorse is comprised of husband-and-wife team Luke Doucet and Melissa McClelland. They’ve each had storied careers on their own; together, they’re a genre-straddling musical duo weaving breathtaking vocal harmonies through poetic lyrical narratives and soaring melodies.

Leave No Bridge Unburned leans a little towards a heavier sound than some of their previous outings. The drums drive harder and the guitars scream louder. What hasn’t changed is Doucet’s and McClelland’s ability to make singing together sound as natural as breathing.

This is evident right from track one, “Baby, What’s Wrong,” a twangy, bluesy rock tune with vocals almost eerily in sync. That slightly mournful tone carries through Side A before turning slow and contemplative “Dear Irony.”

The drums kick up again when Side B starts with “Sweet Disaster.” Side B also holds one of the standout tracks on this album, “Fake Your Death (And I’ll Fake Mine),” a heartbreaking tune about two people unable to live with their mistakes, but unable to live without each other.

Leave No Bridge Unburned has been in heavy rotation on my turntable since I picked it up, and I don’t see me tiring of this one any time soon. Whitehorse toured across North America last year, garnering accolades along the way. What that tells me is I’ve missed my chance at seeing them play for cheap in a local bar, but seeing them live is still on my bucket list.


The (A)DAR Returns

The holidays are over, the days are brightening up a little, and it’s time to get back into the swing of things. That means it’s back to posting my (Almost) Daily Album Reviews!

Since my last (A)DAR, I have joined the hipster set, re-entering the world of vinyl with a Realistic LAB-2200 turntable. With a new Audio Technica cartridge and a Pyle preamp plugged into my old Bose Wave radio, the music sounds pretty darn good. I’ve already amassed a respectable little collection now that I’m able to join in the fun of record shopping with my friends instead of simply wandering the aisles waiting for them to finish rifling through the bins.

Unfortunately, I have no David Bowie in any of my music collections (how does that happen?), otherwise I’d be joining all the other music lovers on the Interwebz in paying tribute to him today. 2016 is shaping up to be a rough year for rock legends.

The (A)DAR – Pink Floyd’s The Dark Side of the Moon

2016-01-11 19.26.01Don’t worry, this is going to be a short post. Dark Side has been reviewed, analysed, deconstructed and debated countless times over the decades, and I’m not arrogant enough to think that I have anything new to say about this album.

As for me, I’ve been hearing songs from Dark Side all my life. I was young when it was released, worked in a record store when the original “CD-001” pressing was the only CD version on the shelves, even got wasted and watched as the album eerily synced up to The Wizard of Oz. Yet, in my more years on this planet than I care to admit, through its myriad reissues on vinyl, 8-track, cassette, CD and vinyl again, I never owned a copy of Pink Floyd’s The Dark Side of the Moon.

I ask again… how does that happen?

That oversight has been corrected. On my first trip to the first record store I visited, the first thing I picked up was the 40th anniversary pressing of this classic album. Now that I finally have a chance to listen to it in its entirety and not just as background noise or novelty entertainment, I can appreciate what I’ve missed all those years. This living, breathing, jarring, contemplative, maddening, beautiful album deserves every accolade and reissue it has seen, and then some.


The (A)DAR – Psydoll’s I, Psydoll

R-2337046-1277903951.jpegRemember what the future looked like from the 1990s? We were all going to be wearing fetish leather and oddly-coloured hair extensions while dancing in dimly-lit clubs cranking out aggressive industrial music. That is, of course, when we weren’t jacked into cyberspace, searching for any secrets that might be worth something.

It was one of those late nights Keanu-Reevesing through the ‘net on a jury-rigged computer system that I came across the realization of all my cyberpunk dreams: Psydoll.

To get my hands on this CD by a Japanese band that I discovered on an American website, I had to order it from a British record label and have it delivered to my Canadian basement apartment. At this point, I had been working for web development companies for years, but this was the first time I really fathomed the global reach of the medium.

Anyway, enough about me. On to the music.

“In the Fog” was the first Psydoll song I heard, and I was hooked immediately. I don’t understand a word of Japanese, but the opening bars of the tune with Nekoi’s vocals lilting over an acoustic guitar, then maintaining that serenity when the music morphs into a grinding industrial beat… intoxicating.

Many of the songs on I, Psydoll feature Nekoi’s light, almost childlike voice floating over a frenetic mix of conflicting beats and industrial staccatos. In fact, as you’d probably expect from an electronic industrial band, some of the songs dissolve into nothing but driving noise. That is, until you start to listen a little deeper.

When I first got this album, the grinding, monotonous drone of “Theme from Psydoll” instantly became one of my least favourite tracks. After the umpteenth, listen, though, I got to the point where my brain just started to tune it out. That’s when I first noticed the strange, pulsating, almost organic sounds lurking under the industrial noise. It’s kind of like those pictures that, at first glance, are just a mess of colour blotches. Stare at them long enough, though, you can see the 3D teapot hidden in the patterns.

According to Wikipedia (which is an infallible source of information, as we all know), Psydoll is still around. I’ll have to see about picking up any albums I’ve missed over the years.


The (A)DAR – Stones by Addict

Well, I did say it was going to be a series of almost daily album reviews. I wish I could could blame work 100% for my absence over the last couple of days, but the truth is I got both a phone and a turntable last week and, well, you know what it’s like with shiny new things.

Addict_-_StonesLuckily, this is going to be a pretty short review so I’ll be able to get back to playing with my toys soon enough.

Stones by Addict is a disc that has haunted me. Ever since I started organizing my CD collection alphabetically, that green face has been CD number one in the box, on the shelf, in the binder, wherever and however I’ve been housing my collection.

And the thing is, I have no idea where it came from or how I got it. It came out in ’98, but I don’t recall ever submitting a review for it. Near as I can figure, it came in the swag bag for Canadian Music Week, NXNE, or one of the many other industry events I found myself invited to back in those days.

Anyway, I’m finally giving it a listen after carrying it around for almost two decades. This is another one that doesn’t really hit me on an emotional level, but it is a pretty good album. A solid wall of guitars, competent vocal harmonies, a steady stream of radio-friendly hard rock tunes. I’ve often thought of ditching this one, but never got around to it. Kinda glad I didn’t. I might even put this one into rotation for a while, give it a little more time to sink in.

Most of the tracks from Stones are up on YouTube, so somebody out there loves this album. Here’s the title track, and from there you can follow the links to hear some of the other songs. I’d suggest “Nobody Knows” and “Monster Slide” to get a feel Addict’s sound. As I finish up this review, I’m about halfway into my third listen of this one, and it’s already starting to grow on me.